First Test

New Zealand v Bangladesh

At Hamilton, December 18, 19, 20, 21, 22. New Zealand won by an innings and 52 runs. Toss: Bangladesh. Test debut: Sanuar Hossain.

The Northern Districts Association had spent over $NZ1m improving their lovely ground: four new floodlight towers soared above the trees, and much effort had been spent on an outfield trampled by the Waikato rugby team over the winter. Unfortunately, they had no control over the fickle December weather. Rain washed out the first day and, just as Khaled Masud was winning the toss and deciding to bowl, it returned to blight the second. However, under ICC regulations, each of the remaining days could be extended from 90 to 105 overs, and Fleming was confident he could still win in that time.

The match certainly packed plenty of action into the eventual first session, though it was not to New Zealand's liking. In his first over, Mashrafe bin Mortaza found sharp bounce and Vincent attempted a misguided hook at the third ball: one for one. Worse followed. Manjurul Islam slanted one across Sinclair, and the edge was pouched by Masud: 19 for two. That became 29 for three when Mashrafe removed Fleming, and a stumble was turning into a collapse when Manjurul undid Astle with a brilliant delivery which whipped across him and flew to Al Sahariar at slip. New Zealand were 51 for four in the 16th over. But Richardson, who had watched the unfolding drama from the other end, persuaded the usually bullish McMillan of the virtues of stout defence. Slowly, the pitch lost some of its early life, the ball lost its shine and the modest support bowling was revealed. Still, with New Zealand 93 for four at lunch, Bangladesh had taken the first session. It would be their last of the tour.

After the break, Richardson and McMillan counter-attacked, mercilessly exposing the bowling's lack of depth. Richardson's century came quickly for him, from 144 balls. McMillan was more dominant, hitting 18 fours and two sixes in a three-hour hundred, despite having damaged a hand in a taxi accident two days earlier. New Zealand were flying: hour by hour, their scoring-rate soared, from 31 in the first to an incredible 90 in the fourth - before rain intervened again.

Once Fleming declared on the fourth morning, the critical question was whether Bangladesh would avoid the follow-on. Had they done so, their ability to score quickly might have forced New Zealand to bat on into the final day and given them a chance of saving the game. But it was not to be. Because the first two days were lost, Bangladesh's target was 216, rather than the 166 they would have needed in a five-day match. Although they made brisk progress, the clatter of falling wickets was a constant accompaniment. Habibul Bashar and Sanuar Hossain made sprightly contributions, and Khaled Mahmud launched a belated onslaught, yet soon after tea Bangladesh fell 11 runs short.

By the close, they were four wickets down again. On the last morning, Cairns, who had been bowling without conviction, returned to his best. Two years before, he had taken seven for 27 at a similar juncture to sweep New Zealand to victory over West Indies; this time, he claimed five in 38 balls. Bangladesh lost their last six wickets for 18, Cairns finished with seven for 53, and New Zealand had won inside seven sessions.

Man of the Match: M. H. Richardson.

© John Wisden & Co